Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend Cooking... A Special Pennsylvania 'Dutch' Treat.

I was going to write about my favorite, go-to cookbook this morning but then I looked outside and changed my mind. It is a cold, snowy day here at the Jersey Shore, so my mind went to one of my favorite comfort breakfast foods...scrapple. Now, many of you who live out of the Mid-Atlantic states may not be familiar with scrapple. A few of you that are familiar with this delightful product may not share my fondness for it. I have actually seen people shutter at the mention of it. Oh, they are so, so wrong!
What is scrapple? Well, let me tell you if you are not so lucky to have grown up eating it.

Scrapple is made with pork, usually scraps, although I remember a TV show with Julia Child making it using a loin of pork. However, unless Julia is coming to your house to cook, the scrapple you buy will be made with pork scraps finely minced, pork broth, cornmeal and spices like sage, thyme, and black pepper. The resulting mush is put in a loaf pan to become solid, then sliced, dusted with flour and pan fried. For some reason, if you order it in a diner, another NJ specialty, they usually deep fry it, making it extra crispy on the outside. Something I am not sure I approve of. There are one or two commercial brands that you can buy in the local supermarkets, but for the best products, if you can, search out an Amish butcher to make your purchase. Because when it comes to scrapple, the Amish reign supreme.

According to the all knowing Wikipedia...
"Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland). Scrapple and Pon haus are commonly considered an ethnic food of the Mennonite and Amish, or Pennsylvania Dutch...Scrapple is arguably the first pork food invented in America. The culinary ancestor of scrapple was the Low German dish called panhas, which was adapted to make use of locally available ingredients, and it is still called "panhoss" or "pannhas" in parts of Pennsylvania. The first recipes were created more than two hundred years ago by Dutch colonists who settled near Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries. As a result, scrapple is strongly associated with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and surrounding eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula.

In composition, preparation, and taste, scrapple is similar to the white pudding popular in Ireland..."
...another product I am very fond of. Have I ever mentioned the wonderful product that is Irish Black and White puddings? Well, we will save that for another day.

Scrapple is often eaten as a breakfast meat, with eggs and toast or pancakes. But my favorite way to eat it is as a sandwich, on a toasted Thomas' English Muffin (no other brand will do!) with a little ketchup. I have been eating that as long as I can remember, from the time I was just a wee Caite. My maternal grandfather died when I was about 7, but before he died the proper way to prepare scrapple was one of the important life lessons he taught me. Slice it not too thick, not too thin. Dust in a bit of flour and pan fry over low heat so you get a solid, crispy exterior while the center still remains soft. Don't fool with it, don't rush it. Get that English muffin in the toaster, the ketchup standing by. Best consumed with a cold glass of milk. Yum...

For the brave, I found a recipe online that sounds reasonable, with a minor amount of odd bits.

* 2 pounds ground lean pork
* 1 pound beef liver
* 1 cup buckwheat flour
* 3 cups yellow corn meal
* 4 tablespoons salt
* 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons sage
* 2 teaspoons ground mace
* 2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 2 teaspoons ground thyme
* 2 teaspoons whole sweet marjoram
* 3 quarts of water

In a large pot bring the water to a boil. Add beef liver and boil 10 minutes. Remove the liver and either run through a chopper or grab a knife and cut it in as small pieces as you can. Return chopped liver to the pot. Add the ground pork, a little at a time, and stir. Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the buckwheat flour, corn meal, salt, and spices; add to meat and broth slowly, stirring constantly. Simmer gently for one hour, stirring frequently. Use lowest possible heat, as mixture scorches easily.

Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bounce the pans a couple of times so that the Scrapple settles, and let cool. Let the Scrapple set in the refrigerator overnight.

When you arise in the morning, remove the scrapple from the refrigerator and cut into to 3/8 inch slices.

To serve: Thaw slices and dust with flour. Fry in either bacon grease or lard until golden brown. Do not use a cooking spray. It will not taste right and ruin the scrapple.

This has been my weekly contribution to Weekend Cooking, so be sure to check out the other entries hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. One of my daughters lives in DE and she has mentioned this "treat" to me and I do believe she did shudder as she tried to describe it. Of course the fact that she's a vegetarian may have something to do with it.

    It's pretty darn cold in FL today too:52 degrees. Rats! We may even have to turn the heat on.

  2. There is in fact a vegetarian version! The perfect Christmas

    It is in the low 20's here with a wind chill in the single numbers and several inches of snow on the ground. I LOVE IT!

  3. Oh my goodness, did this bring back memories of Gettysburg College. My husband's frat cook made this as a special treat for they guys!

    Sure wish we had snow here in the midwest. Stay warm :)

  4. When my parents got married in 1950, they moved to Philadelphia and were introduced to scrapple. They only lived there for 3 years, but they took their love of scrapple with them. My mom was able to buy it in Virginia, so I grew up on it too. I don't remember my mom dusting it with flour before she fried it, but she may have. Your post brought back great memories, even though we never ate it with ketchup.

  5. Hi Caite,
    I've never heard of "scrapple". But it sounds delicious! I think I would like it, as all the ingredients are things I like. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    Sherrie's Stuff

  6. I now have the perfect reason to visit the Mid-Atlantic area. Scrapple is unknown to me but I'd love to try it.

  7. Even tho I grew up in Baltimore, where scrapple was a staple in all the stores and on restaurant menus, I've never had it. My mother always made such a horrible face and shudder and then described it as something that's not printable on a family blog, so....

    But this explanation makes we want to try you have a recipe?

  8. I have never had Scrapple - I'm not sure I've ever wanted to - (no offense meant!) but your post mankes it sound pretty good. I do like breakfast sausage so I may give it a try. Thanks Caite!

    I hope you are warm & snug in case the snow comes your way!

  9. I'm from central Illinois, but I know all about scrapple, probably because I lived very close to a large Amish community and my grandparents would go every week or so to the butcher's and baker's .

    I'm not a huge fan of it, but I like it.

  10. there Tina, I added a recipe!
    Not that I ever made it...or know anyone that makes it. Everyone I know that eats it buys it ready made. But it does not sound hard.

    Now my mother often made cornmeal mush...which is like scrapple without the pork, fried like scrapple and served with maple syrup.

  11. We have 18 inches of snow on the ground here in Baltimore! woohoo!

    My husband LOVES scrapple, but we have a no scrapple rule in the house. So he just has to be happy with restaurant scrapple!

  12. I've heard of this, but I've never really known what it is! And, I'm watching Julie and Julia tonight...I'm going to have to give it a try!

  13. I've never had scrapple but I'd love to try it- thanks for the recipe! :-)

  14. I learned about something new today--thanks

  15. I love it! A post about scrapple! We are a mixed family ... some of us do ketchup and some of us do syrup. I like mine with syrup ... and I like it extra crispy. Whenever people visit and I mention scrapple, they look at me like I'm nuts!!!!

  16. Beth, a no scrapple rule? And you two are still married?

    Jill, I must admire anyone that actually makes it.

    Marie and kaye...come on over. I have lots in my frig.

    Jenners, I must say I have never had scrapple with syrup. Corn meal mush, of course but never scrapple. My grandfather never mentioned this option!

  17. I know scrapple well, having grown up in Ohio and now living in Pennsylvania. Yummy stuff, but I've never made it at home, only ordered it in restaurants.

    My mom bought it from the butcher and pan-fried it.

  18. God love you, but there is no way in the world you're going to convince me to make my own scrapple!

    Back when hubs and I were dating, I took him to VA for the 1st time to meet my family. One morning, in No. VA, we went for breakfast. He ordered eggs, the waitress rattled off the list of meats he could get with the order. He asked "what's scrapple?" She replied "if you don't know what it is, don't order it!" But he ordered it anyway, as she and I exchanged horrified looks. When it came, he just stared at it, regretting his decision. The verdict? Yeah, no. He didn't love it. =)

    Now, as for say Taylor Ham, another NJ meat that I can never find here - I would love to find a west coast source!

  19. Taylor Ham!! Yes, a true NJ meat product...maybe next


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